It’s official. My move to California is in the works – aiming for late July or early August. This past week I visited San Francisco – my friend Monica and I stayed with a good friend of ours in Haight-Ashbury (known for being a hippie neighborhood in SF). I talked with several people about lifestyle, cost of living, and what to expect.
Here’s what I learned:
1) Don’t call San Francisco “San Fran” or “Cisco” – dead give away that you are a tourist.
2) The lowdown on all of the neighborhoods . Each has it’s own characteristics and personality. Basically, stay away from an area called “the tenderloin”, and you should be okay. Get pepperspray.
3) The weather is absolutely gorgeous. We ran a half-marathon there, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. The coldest months are actually in the summer (around July and August). California is going through a drought, so not too much rainfall.
4) Unless you have a significantly well paying job, you’ll most likely need roommates and live in a shoebox. Rent in SF is skyhigh. I met people who pay 1000$ living with four other people and others in a two bed, one bath with each roommate paying 1500$. Another paid 2400$ for a studio.
5) Tech, startups and innovation are king. Everyone seems to have a connection to new apps or companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook. They might be starting their own companies or are involved in something to change the world.
6) Like New York, no one has cars. Uber, Lyft, public transportation, and walking are the main modes of transportation. SF has something called Uber pool which isn’t available in all cities yet. The premise is splitting Ubers with people that you don’t know for a decreased price. For those of you who don’t use Uber and Lyft – they’re essentially cab services that you order via an app for a low cost.
7) You’re lucky to have a washer/dryer in a unit – they are usually shared by an apartment or you go to a laundromat.
8) There are no shortage of local and unique restaurants. We tried Mexican, Cajun, American, Thai, Chinese – and it was all delicious.
9) We were walking down Haight when we saw naked men with only a sock to cover up their…ahem. Apparently, you haven’t had a proper welcome into SF until you see someone without their clothes on. It sounds like out of the ordinary events like this are the norm. Keep San Francisco weird?
10) Meeting a significant other on a dating app is typical. My friend is dating someone from Stanford that she met on one called Coffee Meets Bagel. Tinder is purely casual.
11) There are a lot of homeless people, but you get used to it. Don’t bother them, and they usually won’t bother you.
12) San Francisco is a very laid back city. Everyone seems to dress very relaxed. Lots of comfortable shoes and denim.
13) The music scene is incredible. It’s salivating. Well-known and underground artists alike make San Francisco a destination. My cousin saw Sam Smith four times before he made it big – at tickets under 20$. There are also festivals like Outside Lands and Treasure Island.
14) There is always something to do. New restaurants, new events. Hiking, water sports, the beach, biking, parks, travel destinations – so much variety.
15) Most people in San Francisco are transplants. It’s pretty dead during the holidays because everyone leaves for their hometowns.
16) People are willing to help and extremely inspiring! All types of people from all over the world live there. At just one beach party we went to, we met two people planning on living in Paris in the summer, and another starting a company in Uganda to bring citizens clean energy.
Like any other city, there are trade-offs. From everything I’ve gathered, it’s worth the cost – at least for a year or two. Cheers to the next step in the journey!